PLEASE NOTE I DO NOT OFFER PLACEMENTS – THIS PAGE IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY
Firstly, congratulations on deciding to be a counsellor! I hope you find the work fulfilling and enjoyable and help many people throughout your career! I get many requests for placements from student counsellors. I created this page on the website to hopefully help student counsellors looking for placements to contact the right kinds of organisations instead of wasting their time sending out endless emails and letters with their CV’s attached.
Firstly, a very simple fact that some training organisations seemingly have not explained to student counsellors:
MOST COMMERCIAL AND SOLE-TRADING THERAPY PRACTICES, THAT DON’T HAVE THEIR OWN TRAINING COURSE, DO NOT TAKE ON STUDENT COUNSELLORS, EITHER AS A PLACEMENT OR AS VOLUNTEERS
BUT WHY??? I hear you scream – “I need to do my counselling hours so that I can qualify!!” Yes I know, but there is a very simple explanation:
Most private companies and individuals that charge counselling fees as standard require that their counsellors be fully insured and regulated by a professional body.
Those organisations that offer training often times will have their own placement system where they are large enough to accommodate the training needs of the student including free therapy for clients via the student (so they can gain their hours) and room rental fees (usually charged to the trainee therapist). In terms of private practitioners, there’s something you need to know about the Private Practice Industry. We do not work 9-5. A lot of therapists do not have an abundance of clients in one place ready to go. Many of us work various locations with varying client numbers at varying times of the year. I’m afraid that we don’t just have clients ready to hand out to you!!! Also, think about this from a business perspective. We’ve spent years building our reputations, we work hard to gain the clients we have, and many of us don’t even market ourselves as offering concessions never mind free counselling. Do you think we all have our very own therapy room? Not the case for many therapists. I also own www.chelmsfordtherapyrooms.com where therapists and students can join as members and they rent a therapy room on an Ad-Hoc basis because that’s how the industry is. When I trained we were not allowed to charge clients for therapy when gaining practice hours, we had to treat them for free and as far as I’m aware this is still the case. For many private practitioners, offering student placements just isn’t economical.
I also get requests from students asking to “sit in” on my therapy sessions – this is usually the case where a student has been training but does not feel confident enough to treat “live patients” on their own. This is an issue you need to address with your tutor as they should have been training you with the skills to treat your own clients. You may also want to to bring this up with your own counsellor – if you have confidence issues that may affect you as a therapist you need to address this. There is a very good reason that student counsellors cannot “sit in” on my private therapy sessions. Let us call upon your training, just for a minute, I’m assuming that you’ve been taught the basics of empathy (i.e: how to empathise with your clients). Call upon that empathy now. Put yourself in one of my client’s shoes. This is just an example to get my point across, I am not using any specific client in this example:
Imagine you are my client. It took you a long time to admit you had issues and get the guts to go into private therapy. You’ve spent the last couple of months getting to know your counsellor, Jenny. Then, out of the blue, Jenny says that a student counsellor will be joining your sessions. A stranger! This makes you nervous, another person will know your deepest darkest secrets and this person isn’t even qualified! They’re not even insured! You didn’t sign up for this, it was bad enough just one person knowing everything, bearing your soul to someone you didn’t know in the first place! Now you’re dreading your counselling session, you don’t know if you can trust this other person, you don’t want to open up when there’s someone else in the room other than the counsellor you’re trying to build and maintain a trusting relationship with. You were told in your very first session that “everything is absolutely private and confidential”, how can that be when someone else is suddenly being introduced to the sessions???
The above example is very much a brief explanation of what could happen – if my client had extreme issues like suicidal thoughts and tendencies, self-harm, paranoia, deep seated self esteem issues, had a social anxiety disorder or any number of other issues that clients come to me with, the client would feel much, much worse.
The very point of counselling is that it is PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL – I would never allow someone else to “sit in” on my sessions and, being a sole-trader, as mentioned above I do not send my private clients to an unqualified uninsured student counsellor. This is different to an NHS student doctor situation, this is private counselling and my counselling contract is between myself and my client ONLY. Also, I am not a qualified Supervisor so likely I would not be able to sign off your hours.
SO – WHAT DO I DO THEN???
Now to deal with the next question – where then do you find a student placement or earn counselling hours? The way that I was trained I counselled real people with real problems, putting my training into practice for free. I went out there and found my own clients. I was open and honest and explained that I had already gained many skills through my training and that I was ready to go with my up to date knowledge and help people for free so that I could gain my hours to qualify. I advertised and clients came to me, I leafleted residential streets, I asked around “does anyone know anyone that might want some free counselling?”. With the course that I did my course tutor was my supervisor and I saw my tutor every month and my hours were signed off.
If you are in a position where you have a qualified person to sign off your hours and you want to advertise for clients to treat them for free, please visit this section of Chelmsford Therapy Rooms: http://chelmsfordtherapyrooms.co.uk/therapyroomrental/therapy-room-rental-for-student-therapists
Not only do we have a room for you to treat clients from, we also have an Advertising Platform where you can advertise yourself as a student looking to treat clients for free. This is a paid for service but we can help you via other mediums to see if we can get a client for you.
For those wishing to apply for a student placement, one of the easiest ways to find a placement is to go through a charity. I suggest you also look at hospices. They’re desperate for volunteers (student counsellors are perfect for this) and there might be a fully qualified supervising counsellor that can supervise you and sign off your hours. You must also check if you are doing a specific type of course, for example a BACP accredited one, that the placement you choose is suitable for the counselling hours you need signing off. Some organisations are quite strict about this so you need to ensure that your counselling hours qualify towards your degree.
If you are studying a BACP accredited course and you are a student member you can access a list of suitable placements here: Counselling Placements
Here are some links you may find helpful in your quest to find a student counsellor placement:
The above list is just a brief snapshot to give you an idea of the types of places that offer student counsellor placements and where you can find extra information on this. Local charities and hospices can be great places to earn your counselling hours, however I would recommend that you call them directly and ascertain who would be in charge of taking on student counsellors, arranging placements etc. Some charities and hospices receive lots of mail and your cover letter / CV might not reach the right person if you post it. Being a counsellor is not just about what you look like on paper, you can write to me and tell me you’re dedicated, driven, motivated etc etc but what I really want to know is do you have the potential to be a good counsellor? Do you have the empathy and the people skills to help the people that really need it in my organisation / charity / hospice?? If you do, go out there and prove it! Pick up that phone and prove you have the skills to make an excellent therapist, I guarantee that speaking to people directly is a much better way to make a lasting impression and to get where you want to go more effectively.
COUNSELLING FOR STUDENT COUNSELLORS
I do offer counselling for student counsellors. Some counselling degrees and courses require that the student have experienced counselling themselves for a certain number of hours, this also ensures that the student counsellor is in the right place mentally and emotionally and in the right mindset before they qualify and start counselling themselves. This is incredibly important as you will hear things that will challenge your ideologies and beliefs about human beings and they way we work, you will hear the most heartbreaking, the most distressing, the most traumatic things in your therapy room and you must be prepared to deal with it. The best way to do this is to have counselling yourself, not only so that you can cope with your own issues and see how counsellors not on your course deliver coping strategies, but also so that you can empathise with the client easier because you have been in the same situation that they find themselves in when sat in front of you. Please see my fees tab for more details, I do offer a 10% student discount.